The devil is in the detail of Scotland’s £ 4.6bn budget boost
THE day after the budget, the Unionist press in Scotland was filled with headlines declaring a £ 4.6bn budget increase for Scotland. It sounds like a lot of money, no doubt intended to increase the Unionist vote in any upcoming election or referendum. We are asked to believe that the good people of the rest of the UK are reaching out to help poor old Jocks when needed.
The devil is, of course, in the detail. Spread between the 5.5 million people living in Scotland, this comes to around £ 800 per person. Seen alongside the £ 37bn the UK government just spent on its highly questionable test and traceability system, he takes a different perspective.
If you factor in cuts in universal credit, rising energy bills, rising national insurance, price inflation, etc., I think I could be forgiven for not join in the celebrations. Of course, much of this so-called windfall actually comes from taxes levied in Scotland in the first place. It’s money !
I recently watched a documentary chronicling the final months of WWII and the misery and deprivation of post-war Europe, including scenes where people were reduced to cutting down trees in parks, gardens and city streets for heating. We may not be quite at this point yet, but as winter approaches 76 years later in so-called ‘modern’ Scotland, a large part of our population is faced with dilemma of heating or eating. The price of gas, and undoubtedly of electricity, is about to skyrocket to a level that is simply unaffordable for many. How will the £ 4.6 billion help them?
READ MORE: The Budget: Here’s What The UK Is Controversially Funding In Scotland
Somewhere, someone or a corporation is laughing all the way to their bank – undoubtedly overseas and tax-free. They accumulate untold wealth without thinking of the misery they leave in their wake. The UK government is sidelined by collecting much more VAT.
Grants of £ 5,000 are given to those who can afford to supplement that amount from their own assets and purchase a heat pump for a price of between £ 7,000 and £ 18,000. What about those folks who can’t afford an extra £ 50 to put on their current heating bill?
I have no doubt that the heat will be on full blast at 10 Downing Street during the winter, and Boris and his family will expect a good Christmas dinner without running out of turkey.
Many more will be looking at a rather cold version of the holiday season, more suited to a Dickensian novel.
AMID the flurry of budget facts and figures, what may not have received the attention it deserves is the frightening impact of Brexit on the economy.
According to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, the impact of Brexit will be worse in the long term compared to the coronavirus pandemic.
It has been estimated that leaving the EU will reduce the UK’s potential economic output by around 4% in the long run, with forecasts indicating that the pandemic will cut output by a further 2%.
It seems that, as many of us have warned, far from being a ‘dividend’ as we have been promised, Brexit is turning out to be a total disaster.
SO Neil Barber of the Edinburgh Secular Society (Letters, October 18) believes that the opinions of anyone with a religious affiliation should be ignored because… well, because Neil disagrees with them.
READ MORE: Lack of outrage against Tories shows Scotland needs to go its own way
The assisted dying bill raises many questions, some with religious connotations, others not. I find the Bill dangerous and scary. Once murder becomes part of so-called health care, where does it end? How many elderly or disabled people will be “encouraged” to die (possibly by unscrupulous relatives) so as not to be a burden? How many will feel like they are committing suicide when they are at a very low level, only to change their mind later? How many doctors made a mistake in their diagnosis? Were people with long-term illnesses asked what they wanted?
Safeguards will of course be in place initially, but they will gradually disappear, as has happened in other countries. And what about hospices and palliative care? You will not find a doctor in these establishments who will support this bill. Will this mean that these places will be deprived of any government funding? Cheaper just to kill patients! This is a very, very dangerous bill. Once on this slippery slope, it is impossible to go back.
This week’s Yes DIY page said that the AUOB march and rally on November 6 will be the only major demonstration that day. However, walkers should be aware that a potentially larger climate justice march and rally (with Greta Thunberg among other speakers) is also planned on this day. Its route also runs from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green, and the schedule also overlaps.
READ MORE: AUOB’s march and rally during COP26 isn’t just about independence
I have been a regular at AUOB marches (and I have the tour t-shirt), but with possible chaos in the streets – perhaps orchestrated (by the usual suspects) – with protesters for the climate sticking or otherwise obstructing access in and through the city, plus Glasgow being a Covid Petri dish for a few weeks … well, especially since I have “protected” during the pandemic, and despite the vaccinations, I honestly have doubts about the possibility of participating in this walk.
But with good weather that day, and a good turnout, foreign media will have a show to cover whether I decide to go or not. I see in some reports such as RT and Al Jazeera that their reporters have already covered some “colorful” local stories, and not all of them positive.